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    by Published on 08-28-2013 08:31 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers
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    Last month the CBC ran a story about Ting, a Toronto-based company that offers wireless service to US customers -- specifically, it resells mobile bandwidth bought in bulk from Sprint.

    If this sounds at all familiar, it's pretty much the same way that the independent ISP TekSavvy operates; here in Ontario they buy bandwidth in bulk from Bell and Rogers, then offer it to customers via their own cable and DSL plans -- plans that are decidedly cheaper than what you'd pay Bell and Rogers, by the way. My TekSavvy DSL gives me a solid 25 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up for less than what I'd be paying Bell directly – and as an added bonus I get an exponentially higher bandwidth cap.

    Similarly, while Sprint unlimited smartphone plans can go as high as $70 USD/month, Ting breaks up voice, messaging and data into separate buckets. You only pay for the minutes and data used, plus messages sent -- incoming messages are free, I hope!

    Ting seems to be a popular choice where it's available. I myself have heard users sing its praises on at least one American podcast. And Sprint doesn't seem to have any problem selling them wholesale mobile service.

    Canada's Big Three carriers, though, are an entirely different story.

    ...
    by Published on 08-27-2013 10:11 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. From The Forums
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    Google just cut the prices of the 8/16GB Nexus 4 down from 309/359 to only 199/249 CAN.

    These are unlocked phones that don't require you to sign a contract.

    I just checked and the Google Play store seems to be having problems so these might be selling out fast. If you can, get one while they're hot! ...
    by Published on 08-26-2013 08:17 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. HowardForums,
    4. From The Forums,
    5. Reviews and Hands-on
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    I was really surprised by all the buzz surrounding the Motorola Moto X. The RAZR and RAZR HD were solid phones but they hardly set the market on fire. So why all the sudden interest in the Motorola Moto X?

    On paper, it’s much more similar to last year’s Android flagships, like the Samsung GS III and HTC One X, rather than this year’s Samsung GS4 and HTC one. So people aren’t drooling over the X’s specs.

    My guess is that since Motorola is now owned by Google, people will assume that the X will like a Nexus phone and receive regular updates from Google. Personally, I doubt this will happen but who knows. In the past, at least in Canada Motorola hasn’t been very good with updates. There are also political reason within the Android eco-system why it would be bad for Google to elevate Motorola above other Android OEM’s when it comes to this.

    Still, it doesn’t mean that the X doesn’t have interesting hardware. Motorola has made it so the X is able to listen in with its microphone all the time with minimal impact on its battery. It’s always listening for you to say ‘OK Google Now’. When you say that, it launches the Google Now app which is sort of like a personal assistant/search program.

    Let’s check out the X. ...
    by Published on 08-26-2013 01:29 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. From The Forums,
    4. Commentary and Analysis
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    With school just around the corner, it’s that time again. Here’s my list of the top phones for back to school.

    If you read the list though you’re probably wondering: “Where’s the iPhone 5”? Well, the way I see it, buying one now is a recipe for buyer’s remorse. Last year Apple announced the iPhone 5 in September, the 4s was announced 2 years ago in October. We’re probably due for a new one soon.

    Heck, even if you don’t care that a new one is just around the corner, there’s probably going to be a price cut that follows, so unless you don’t have a phone at all right now, I’d wait a month for the new iPhones to come.



    1: HTC One

    With it’s sleek metal casing, the best display on the market, the best sounding speakers, the loudest headphone jack and one of the best cameras, it’s easy to see why the HTC One is my top pick.

    It does lose points for not having a memory card slot but then again, it comes with 32GB of built-in storage which helps mitigate this problem. It also lacks a removable battery. Then again, so do most of the other phones here.


    ...
    by Published on 08-21-2013 12:11 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. From The Forums,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
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    I just published a piece on my blog comparing my current costs for mobile service with what I was paying in 2010. I thought I'd copy and paste here for your reading pleasure...

    Note that while my phone plan is currently with Koodo, I depend on my Rogers LTE hotspot more than anything else. Anyway, enjoy!



    Continuing with the themes of nostalgia and progress from last week, this week I'm comparing cell phone bills -- that is, what I'm paying Koodo, Rogers and Bell this month versus what I was paying Fido almost three years ago. All in the name of finding out if Canada's upstart carriers have made The Big Three any better.

    Before I switched to Mobilicity in October of 2010, here's what I was paying Fido:

    $45City Fido unlimited local minutes;
    $30 – 6 GB iPhone data plan;
    $15 – Smartphone Value Pack (voice mail, call display and 1,000 texts);

    $90 - total per month.

    When it came time to cancel I was dinged a whopping $300 in early termination fees -- a $200 ETF for my voice plan and a separate $100 ETF for the data. Fortunately, my service with Mobilicity only cost me $35 -- as such, my monthly savings had erased that loss by the following spring.

    Unfortunately, Mobilicity couldn't give me a usable signal inside my home. I eventually moved to WIND, which was better. But after experiencing LTE data for the first time -- in Japan, of all places -- WIND's plodding data speeds would no longer do.

    Cut to present day. Here's what I'm paying for my mobile services in August, 2013:

    $31.50 - Koodo 400 national minutes & unlimited SMS, with a 10% BYOD discount;
    $15 - 300MB threshold on Koodo pay-as-you-go data;
    $40 - 5GB data threshold on my Rogers LTE hotspot;
    $20 - 500MB data threshold on my Bell LTE hotspot;

    $106.50 - total for this month.
    ...
    by Published on 08-20-2013 06:44 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. From The Forums,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    In the automotive world, the Q5 makes perfect sense: "He" gets the A5 and "She" gets the "Q5". "Her" needs are different because she will drop the kids off at soccer practise and pick up the groceries. It's a great strategy to keep the brand in a given family unit. No longer do you need to go to Chrysler or Honda for that other vehicle; you can shop at Audi for all of your transportation needs. In case I've lost you, Audi is a car manufacturer and they have an SUV model called the Q5. And the gender references aren't intended to offend but merely as an illustration (I drive the minivan in my family).

    And once again for those with the ultra short attention span, the Q5 (Blackberry this time) is one of the best communication devices available but has success highly dependent on price. If carriers gave this phone away for free, Blackberry will claw back market share.


    Blackberry Family
    In my analogy above about a brand family, we know that Blackberry currently has 3 offerings for it's BB10 operating system: Z10, Q10, and now the Q5. Does this mean that "Dad" gets the Q10 because he is on the go and uses the practical keyboard to get his messages sent quick and fast? And does "Mom" use the Z10 for the larger screen to look at what's on sale at the outlet mall? It is entirely possible that the "kids" are awarded the Q5 to allow the entire family to communicate via BB Messenger. Like I said, if the pricing of the Q5 is such that it's a "disposable" expense, then Blackberry has hit the nail on the head. This younger generation can text better and faster than writing cursive with a ballpoint pen. With the entire family in the Blackberry brand, this opens up opportunities for a broader product roadmap that spans a couple generations. It's the same way that Apple is capitalizing on the iOS ecosystem/cult: once you're in, it's tough to get out.

    The logical extension of this is the corporate enterprise world where Blackberry is preferred. With the blip in technological progress during the iPhone/Android launch, my theory is that RIM at the time could not catch up leaving a gap that still exists today. This gap is about shareholder and end-user confidence. I have yet to hear a success story about BB10 exceeding information security requirements. This leads to my assumption that this new Blackberry Q5 is like that odd cousin that just doesn't make sense. To equip a small business, a "free" price point for the Q5 makes a compelling business case. But unfortunately at the enterprise level, the Q10 is the best choice making the Q5 ignorable to say the least. It will not help Blackberry get into the black. ...
    by Published on 08-20-2013 06:31 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. HowardForums,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    I just at a Moto X event and got one to play with. First off, check out the demo. It's long but interesting:



    People have been moping about the Moto X's specifications. While it's true that it doesn't have a quad-core processor and a 1920x1080 display, it does have 2GB of RAM which in my opinion, is more important than the other two specs.

    Anyways, the Moto X isn't priced at the level of the Samsung Galaxy S4. Look, it would be foolish for Motorola to think that they can "Out-Galaxy" the Galaxy S4. If they made their own version of the GS4 it would compete directly with the GS4 and well, you can probably guess how that would turn out.

    Going from dual-core to quad-core results doesn't mean performance doubles. Generally, quad-cores do better in benchmarks but in real life it's debated how much of a difference it makes. Companies use quad-core because it looks good on paper mostly.

    The 1920x1080 screen resolution spec is thing that looks good on paper. In real life, the difference between a 1280x720 and 1920x1080 on a 4.7" screen is minimal. ...
    by Published on 08-19-2013 11:33 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. HowardForums,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    In past 2 years, the Android tablet market has really changed. Initially, we only had 10” and 7” tablets. Now we have many sizes with the 7” tablets becoming the entry level models. It’s the sort of tablet you buy for your toddler - not yourself. You might get one to use while you’re watching TV, that sort of thing. It’s going to be a companion device that doesn’t really replace anything.

    Here’s Samsung entry level tablet - their 7” Galaxy Tab 3 which is priced at around $200.

    A year-and-a-half-ago, a $200 tablet would have been quite a deal. These days, you can get 7” tablet from first and second tablet manufacturers like HP, ASUS, Acer that are cheaper and pack more hardware.

    If you’re looking at the 7” Tab 3 you might also consider both the 2012 and 2013 Google Nexus 7’s, the Kobo Vox and the Amazon Kindle Fire. ...
    by Published on 08-18-2013 05:59 PM
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    On August 8th, I told you all how Android had reached an 80% market share, while Apple had fallen to a low of 13%. So this week, I want to go over the time line in a point form manner, of big things that happened to help make that happen.
    It wasn't always peachy in the 'Droid zone.


    2003 Android Inc. was started by Andy Rubin (co-founder of Danger), Rich Miner (co-founder of Wildfire Communications, Inc.), Nick Sears (once VP at T-Mobile), and Chris White (headed design and interface development at WebTV). Their goal was sofrware for phones and camerass.

    2005 Google buys Android for $50 million, after having backed it for a while.

    2008 Google Partnered with T-Mobile USA to launch the first Android based phone, the G1. (which is aka the HTC Dream.

    2009 The launch of the Verizon Exclusive Motorola Droid. This was big, as Verizon didn't have an iPhone, and the Droid ran the new version 2.0 of Android. Motorola touted the Droid's slider keyboard as a 'big' feature.
    ...
    by Published on 08-15-2013 05:03 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
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    I have a bit of a confession, as the father of a newborn and a toddler I’m a bit obsessed with IP cameras. I actually have 7 of them deployed around the house. All of them have WiFi, night vision, microphones, some support 2-way audio, a couple can pan and tilt plus a few have megapixel sensors.

    When I want to take a break from working, I love being able to tune in and watch my kids - they’re young enough that this isn’t creepy (yet).

    Which brings us to the Belkin’s NetCam HD. It’s an IP camera with a megapixel sensor, night vision and a built-in microphone. ...
    by Published on 08-14-2013 10:17 AM

    From The Globe and Mail

    Verizon Communications Inc. decided to take a hard look at investing in Canada’s $19-billion wireless market following a key meeting with the federal government in late May.

    The New York-based telecom sent a contingent of staff to meet with officials from Industry Canada on May 21, according to a document obtained by The Globe and Mail. Although that document is short on specifics, two people familiar with the situation separately confirmed that Verizon employees and government officials conducted “exploratory talks” in Ottawa about wireless opportunities on that spring day.

    Among those present for the meeting were members of Verizon’s mergers-and-acquisition team. Sources say that following the trip to Ottawa, Verizon decided to undertake a more detailed assessment of potential “market opportunities” north of the border. Weeks later, it tabled a preliminary $700-million offer for Wind Mobile and signed a non-disclosure agreement with Mobilicity as part of early-stage talks with the struggling startup.
    ...
    by Published on 08-13-2013 05:07 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. HowardForums,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    If you’re in the market for an 8” tablet there are 3 main choices. The Apple iPad Mini which I reviewed a while back, the Note 8.0 that Ray looked at and The Galaxy Tab 3 8” which I’m looking at today.

    Aside from the iPad Mini and Note 8.0 you might also consider the rest of the Samsung Tab 3 lineup and the 2013 Google Nexus 7.

    Let’s see how they size up.
    ...
    by Published on 08-13-2013 12:03 PM
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    Everyone wants to have a great launch for a cellphone, or other type of electronic device.
    The way we go about it, that makes or breaks it. For LG, what they did in Seoul, South Korea, might bring them news, but is it good? As a highschool teacher once told me "Any news is promotoion." so we shall see what this does for LG.

    Source
    Good Idea: So, some smart Marketing Person at LG, in Seoul South Korea, decided they would have a give away for some G2 phones.
    ...
    by Published on 08-12-2013 12:55 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
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    Here’s the Belkin WeMo power switch. It’s a $50 power switch which you can control using your Android or iOS Smartphone.

    You just connect it to a power outlet and then plug something into it.

    Setup is straight forward:

    1. Plug the WeMo into an outlet
    2. Download the WeMo app
    3. Open up your phone’s WiFi settings menu and connect to the WeMo
    4. Open up the WeMo app, enter your WiFi network’s password
    5. Configure Switch and setup rules


    The app lets you view whether the outlet is on or off plus you can create rules about when it should turn on or off.
    ...
    by Published on 08-09-2013 06:12 PM
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    Reuters is reporting that the ITC ruled today "South Korea's Samsung infringes on portions of two Apple Inc patents on digital mobile devices, covering the detection of headphone jacks and operation of touchscreens.".
    ...
    by Published on 08-08-2013 04:53 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Carriers
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    I have a Bell PDF explaining how their rate plans are changing as of August 9th. It's called 'How Consumer Rate Plans just got Better" - I'm not sure if this is to be said with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

    Anyways, it stuff we're already talking about here including:

    • How new 2yr and 30 day activations and hardware upgrades should work.
    • The new rate plans which include unlimited nationwide calling, text and MMS
    • New share-only plans
    • Promo plans for Voice and Voice and Data Lite (regular plans are Voice and Data Plus)
    • How migrations from 3yr plans to 2yr plans work
    • Why Bell's new plans are better than Rogers' and TELUS' new plans


    For those who don't know. 3 year contracts are out now - the max contract length is 2 years. Bell is using this opportunity to sort of reset their 3 yr plans. Basically, if you have a awesome rate plan that's lower than the new plans you can keep it but if you want hardware you'll have to switch to a rate plan that's compatible with 2 year contracts (Bell calls it an 'in market plan').

    The new plans have unlimited calling, text and MMS - basically because TELUS came out with it first and Bell is moving to match.

    While 2 year contracts are the max there are tiers of 2 year contracts based on how much you're over-paying I mean how you spend each month.

    1. There's voice only
    2. Voice and Data Lite
    3. Voice and Data Plus


    Plus means you're the type of big spender that Bell likes and you'll get the best subsidies on phones. Lite means you spend a little less and as such will receive a smaller subsidy. You get the idea.

    If you're having trouble seeing an image right click on it and view it/view in new tab to see it at full resolution. ...
    by Published on 08-08-2013 11:39 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. News
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    Looks like The Blackberry Z10 and Q10 now have the 'authority to operate' on the DoD's networks. It's the first Mobile Device Management provider to get his.

    Now the US Defense Information System Agency is working to support 10,000 BB10 devices by this fall and 30,000 by the end of the year.

    I wonder if Hauwei will get their ATO next.
    ...
    by Published on 08-08-2013 09:13 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. News,
    4. From The Forums,
    5. Commentary and Analysis,
    6. Rumors
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    Source for my info: WallStreet Journal

    Market Share:
    Android 79.3%
    iOS: 13.2%
    Windows: 3.7%
    Blackberry: 3%
    Well, the numbers are in, and Android put every other competitor over it's knee, and thoroughly spanked them.
    I don't mean it was a mild, light spanking, I mean, it was a whallop like no one has ever seen before.
    BUT while large sales of devices is good... it's all about profit for your share holders, and Apple has that number in the bag, though not as devastatingly as the device numbers, and the profit margin IS shrinking between iOS and Android.
    ...
    by Published on 08-07-2013 10:27 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. News
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    Today LG announced the LG G2. They announced a few weeks back that they're dropping the Optimus branding on their high-end.

    Aimed squarely at the Galaxy S4 and it's comparables the G2 out-Galaxy's the GS4 on a number of fronts:
    • 5.2" 1920x1080 display
    • 2.65mm side bezels with rear controls
    • 3000mAh battery
    • 13 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization
    • 24bit/192kHz music playback
    • 2.26Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
    • Android 4.2.2 (did LG wait till 4.3 came out to release this?)
    • 32GB or 16GB of storage
    • 2GB RAM
    • 138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9mm


    So they've managed to shoe-horn a 5.2" screen into the chassis of a 4.7/4.8"ish phone. I don't know about you but the G2 looks like a very difficult phone to hold. To make it a little easier they've moved the controls to the back. I'm not sure how well that would work.

    The 3000mAh battery is a nice touch, that's almost as big as the one you get in the Galaxy Note 2 so the G2 might have a chance of lasting the day on a single charge for more people.

    Under the hood the 2.26Ghz quad-core processor should fly. The North American GS4's come with a 1.9Ghz version of this processor while the HTC One 1.7Ghz. Will it be noticeably faster? Probably not unless you have them side-by-side but it's still nice to have the fastest one out there.

    2GB of RAM is par-for-the-course. Last year's Optimus G came with 2GB as did the Samsung GSIII/GS 4, HTC One, Xperia Z/ZL, etc. More would be nice but 2GB is more than enough right now.

    The 24bit/192Khz music playback is an interesting feature. I'm guessing LG is making use of the fact that Android now supports external DAC. I wonder how good the headphone jack will sound and if they back this with a good amp.

    I guess whiners will whine that it only comes with Android 4.2.2. The timing of the G2's release is kind of funny since LG has this reputation of being a little behind-the-curve when it comes to updates since 4.3 came out last week. Then again, it will probably be a few months till any non-Nexus phone comes with 4.3. ...
    by Published on 08-06-2013 05:30 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. HowardForums,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    Here’s the 10.1" Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. On paper, aside from a new Intel powered processor, it doesn’t seem all that different from its predecessor the Tab 2. Still, shopping based solely on specs is one of the worst things you can do. So is the Tab 3 an improvement?

    The way I see it, the 10.1" Tab 3 has 3 main competitors; the Apple iPad 2, Google Nexus 10 and Microsoft Surface RT. Let’s see how the Tab 3 stacks up with them.
    ...

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